It’s 2017 and the world that we live in is highly competitive, so it is imperative for business professionals to find ways to stand out from their competitors. The problem, however, is it can become difficult to stand out from others who look just like you on paper.

The information that can be placed on paper, such as your credentials and experience, may get you a meeting with a potential client or referrals, but it will be your people skills that will turn that meeting and those referrals into dollars and cents. In fact, research by the Carnegie Institute of Technology determined that 85 percent of a person’s financial success is due to skills in human engineering, personality, ability to communicate, negotiate and lead, while only 15 percent is due to technical ability. This is not to say that technical skills are unimportant, but it shows that people skills are vital to lifelong success. So here are my do’s and don’ts for standing out from the crowd and lifetime success:

DO: Amp up your communication skills. Many people feel they already have mastered this skill when, in most cases, they have been hearing what others say instead of listening. We hear things all the times such as the television in the background, but to actively listen means to listen with all senses. We must quiet down and pay attention to the person we are talking to, taking note of their body language and tone. Try not to interrupt the other person speaking and ask questions for clarity and confirmation.

DO: Learn how to look at situations from different viewpoints. Empathy is the ability to step into another person’s shoes. It is not pity but rather trying to understand another person’s perspective. It is easier to communicate and create bonds with others when we take the time to look at situations that may present themselves from another person’s point of view.

DON’T: Be afraid of challenges or changes. If you ask business owners about the traits they want in employees, many may list resiliency. It is the ability to recover from setbacks and adapt. People who have this skill can thrive even in challenging times because they have mastered the ability to work during and after tests and trials with a positive attitude and renewed energy. We should try to be optimistic always and view crises we encounter as lessons we can learn from.

DON’T: Be casual in the workplace. Technology has allowed us to be more mobile while working, but we still need to practice professionalism. We can become relaxed while not at the worksite by answering the phone unprofessionally or not at all. Remember to practice proper telephone etiquette such as smiling and speaking with a clear voice even if you are using your personal cellphone. We should also remember to return calls and in a timely manner. Be aware of any disruptive background noises such as your children that can be distracting to callers.